Congress to mobilize fishermen against the LDF
Congress on Thursday sought to capitalize on the fishing community’s “growing distrust” of the government’s exploratory deals with a US-based company to trawl the high seas off Kerala.
Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala organized a one-day sit-in-protest in Poonthura to mobilize coastal community opinion against the LDF and consolidate the party’s position among fishermen.
Mr Chennithala grew a freshly caught tuna and said foreign trawlers would soon rob fishermen of the ocean’s bounty. A fleet of fishing trawlers would invade their traditional fishing grounds if the LDF returned to power.
The DFL had simply put on hold a proposal to allow a US company to build trawlers in national shipyards to plunder the deep seas, he said.
The company was planning to recruit local fishermen to outfit the vessels in order to circumvent the ban on foreign trawlers, Chennithala said and added that the government had conspired to facilitate the false flag operation.
The congressional statement forced the government to withdraw from the agreements. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Minister of Fisheries J. Mercykutty Amma and Minister of Industry EP Jayarajan were the main drivers of the secret pact signed surreptitiously with the American company. The political executive owed the fishermen an explanation. He tried to evade the responsibility of the officials scapegoats, he said.
The Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Conference and the Latin Catholic Diocese, Thiruvananthapuram, had criticized the government for inking the agreements without consulting the fishing community. They said the contracts had caused a deep sense of insecurity among the fishermen.
Therefore, the government rescinded the ₹ 5,000 crore “exploratory deal” Kerala State Industrial Corporation (KSIDC) had entered into with EMCC International to build a network of modern fishing ports linked to a seafood processing center at the industrial scale in Alappuzha.
Previously, the government invalidated the Kerala Shipping and Inland Navigation Corporation’s preliminary ₹ 2,900 crore deal with the same company to build and operate a fleet of deep-sea trawlers to harvest marine riches off the coast of Kerala.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had accompanied sea fishermen on a short trawling expedition off Kollam on Wednesday to draw national attention to the controversial agreements. He also spent two hours listening to their woes.
KPCC President Mullappally Ramachandran inaugurated the sit-in. AICC General Secretary Tariq Anwar attended the farewell meeting.